Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 21, 1882

Brothers and Sisters in Battle Creek

Oakland, California

August 3, 1882

This letter is published in entirety in PH155 1-12.

Dear Brethren and Sisters in Battle Creek:

My soul has been sadly burdened tonight. I have been unable to sleep, as I have been many nights, because of great distress for the cause of God and the church at Battle Creek. I thought, when my work was done in writing out Testimony No. 31, I should then be free; but last night in my dreams, I was in your meetings. I heard your testimonies. I felt your spirit. Some were humbling their souls before God with confession and humiliation. These made their way out of the darkness, while Elder Smith, Brother McLearn, and William Gage seemed to feel no spirit of confession; and these very men who had brought the church into difficulty were not, by their own course of action, leading them out. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 1

I heard testimonies borne to have a soothing influence upon the people. Brother McLearn and William Gage, in their testimonies, worked directly against the Spirit of God. They did not seem to understand that Heaven’s light was shining in upon them to call them as a people to repentance. They treated the warnings of the Spirit of God as though it was a matter of indifference—[as though that] voice were human in the place of the Divine. What there was to make any demonstration [of] on their part, they could not see. If they had done wrong, why dwell upon it so much? Just go on, let it all drop and say as little about it as possible. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 2

This is the very thing the enemy of souls wants them to do; and Brother McLearn, here in this peril of the church, while God is seeking to arouse them, has revealed his true spirit, and that he was not a safe man to counsel and advise the church in a crisis. God is calling them to repentance, and do Brother McLearn and William Gage work in harmony with the Spirit of God? Are these men confessing their own sins, acknowledging their departure from God, which has brought calamity and the frown of God upon the church? 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 3

Smooth words and fair speeches are uttered to mislead those who would come to the light. In the place of these men falling upon the Rock and being broken, they are using their inventive powers to make it appear that they were not deserving of reproof; that their course had been altogether different than the Spirit of the Lord had represented. Will they take the testimonies home and act upon them? No; they have not done it and do not intend to do it. A spirit of vindication is aroused in them, rather than of humiliation and confession. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 4

I now state plainly, Brother McLearn has been exalted, praised, deified. Why? Because of his unselfish labors to bring the work and cause of God up where it is? Is it because of his sacrifice of self, his untiring efforts for the cause of God? No; but because he pleased a certain class who were blinded as to the spirit of the work and what God requires of His people, both parents and children, for this time. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 5

These teachers apprehend no special cause of alarm in the present condition of the professed people of God; in their assimilating to the world; and in their lack of love and lack of exercising forbearance toward their brethren. These consider the character of the church generally in a flourishing condition. Therefore they prophesy smooth things and cry, “Peace, peace,” and those who want to have it so, take up the cry, “Peace, peace.” [Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11.] They believe their report and, in the place of being alarmed, are at ease in Zion. They have not sought after idols or graven images to worship, and bowed down before them, but they have idolized one another. Poor, frail, erring man has been praised, petted, exalted, and God saith, “Where is my honor?” [Malachi 1:6.] 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 6

These men are seeking to bring in a different order of things. They would, by their precept and example, lead the people in a path that God has not bidden them to travel. They advocate principles and customs directly contrary to the teachings of the Spirit of God which has been appealing to the people for the last thirty-six years. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 7

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. His children are the children of light. In all ages the obligations and works of the children of God [have been at] variance with the world. Their calling, their character, their prospects are peculiar; and it is these peculiarities that distinguish them from the world and separate them in spirit and practice from the people of the world. The contrast is most decided. The words of inspiration specify the difference between children of the light and children of darkness. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 8

And as we near the close of time, the demarcation between the children of light and the children of darkness will be more and more decided. They will be more and more at variance. This difference is expressed in the words of Christ, “born again,” “created anew in Christ,” “dead to the world and alive unto God.” [John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 2:20; Romans 6:11.] These are the walls of separation that divide the heavenly from the earthly and describe the difference between those who belong to the world and those who are chosen out of it, who are elect, precious in the sight of God. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 9

The members of this body are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Jesus abides in them, and they abide in Jesus. There is no room for idols, no place for concord with Belial, no place for friendship with the world. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 10

It is not a form of godliness that will constitute a living stone in the spiritual building. It is being renewed in knowledge and true holiness, being crucified to the world and made alive in Christ. These walk in love and follow Christ as dear children. The labor of love engages their affections and inspires their prayers. When they trust alone in God, they are divinely assisted by the Spirit of truth. They are not permitted to seek the friendship of the world or cooperate with wicked men. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 11

When we comply with the conditions specified in the Word of God—“Come out from among them and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean”—then we are acknowledged as sons and daughters of God. [2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.] The principles of His righteous, moral government never change; therefore the same measure of guilt will receive the same measure of punishment. If His people have not obeyed His requirements, they stand condemned according to their delinquencies. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 12

What, then, is required of the church at Battle Creek? Humiliation, confession, and true, genuine repentance before God. The spirit manifested by many at Battle Creek is, “Let us not make earnest, thorough work. Such a great ado is uncalled for.” I tell you, God calls for repentance and confessions from His people; and those who have taken an active part in bringing the church into her present position will never come to the light except by humble confession and a sincere repentance before God and working to bring them to the light. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 13

The wall of separation which the Lord Himself has established between the things of the world and the things He has chosen out of the world and sanctified unto Himself has been broken down by those who profess godliness and occupy positions as teachers of the people. They have not, in precept and practice, acknowledged this position, but rather, by their practice annihilated the difference between the holy and the profane. But the separation exists, notwithstanding so many have in practice made it void and seem determined to maintain concord between Christ and Belial. The Lord hath set apart him who is godly for Himself; and this consecration to God and separation from the world, the Lord always has and always will require of His people; for it is plainly declared and positively enjoined in the Old and New Testaments. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 14

Many who think they can impress the world by agreeing with it make a terrible mistake as far as their own salvation is concerned, and the salvation of unbelievers. It is not conformity to the customs and practices of the world that will enlighten them and make them feel their great need of saving grace; but it is to come out from the world and be separate, stand apart and above it, and in character represent Christ and give the impression to the world of a holy, separate life. This will give a true Christian a power of influence over them. They will see there is a better life than that which they are living. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 15

God calls upon these men to repent, to humble their hearts, to rend their hearts and not their garments. Many are rending their garments while their hearts are unbroken. This I know is the true state of many in Battle Creek. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 16

William Gage is wholly unfitted to engage in the work of God. He does not see or sense his true condition. He has not an experimental knowledge of heart holiness, of communion with God. He talks glibly, poll-parrot-like, but the genuine work of grace upon the heart he knows but little about. Oh, how often he catches at Satan’s bait which is presented in various forms. He has not been balanced by the Spirit of God. He has not guarded the first risings of desire. He has not held every emotion and passion in calm subjection to reason and conscience. He has not been careful to suppress all unsanctified imaginings and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 17

William Gage will prove a snare to the people of God wherever he shall take an active part; for he will lead away from right principles to carelessness and indifference in religious things. He has not the weight and burden of the work. He is superficial. He has ever been a curse to the church in Battle Creek and ever will be, unless he is a thoroughly converted man. He will mingle in the company of worldlings full of wit and mirth, and then rise in the desk and preach a straightforward discourse, “Walk in the light.” Such men will do tenfold more harm than good because their daily life contradicts their teachings. They are destitute of the Spirit of truth, unsanctified, unholy. I warn the people of God not to take this man as their pattern. I present such as a beacon to warn and not an example to imitate. I hope all such ones may see and confess and forsake their sins and be converted. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 18

Great blindness has come upon minds through the neglect to believe and follow the light God has given in the testimonies. Brother McLearn has come and has called forth attention and admiration which should be given only to God. This is idolatry. He has spoken smooth words. His fair speeches have flattered those who love praise; but God is not in this. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 19

In testimonies given in the church by those who have been most at fault, there was not a realizing sense that they had done any special wrong to God or to man; and should the same circumstances occur, they would, with their present feelings of darkness, do the same thing over again. There is no safety for the flock of God who are influenced by this class of minds. God saw your dangers and pointed them out to you in Testimony No. 30, also in private testimony; but you failed to heed the warnings of the Spirit of God. You went on as self-confident as though you were following the leadings of the Spirit of God. I entreat of you to make your wrongs right, confess your sins before God and to the church, and make thorough work for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 20

Do not compromise the matter with yourself by excusing your wrongs because somebody else committed errors. The work is between God and your own souls. Do not allow those who have influenced you to commit wrongs to now daub you with untempered mortar. God calls upon you to repent, to acknowledge your wrongs which have brought His frown upon the church, and to forsake them forever. He will accept no half-hearted work. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 21

I beg of you to learn a lesson from the Jewish nation. Their pride, self-righteousness, and stubborn resistance of light and truth brought them into their deplorable condition. Their history is given you, not for you to imitate, but as a beacon of warning that you should not follow their example in sin and impenitence and rejection of light. Gather up the rays of light you have neglected and despised. Follow not the promptings of your own unsanctified hearts, but follow the light; heed the warnings of the Spirit of God; be admonished by the reproofs He has given; be wise for yourselves, lest you shall be left of God as were the Jews, which you surely will be, unless you repent with earnestness and die to your self-love and self-indulgence. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 22

The church has backslidden from God. It is of no avail for them to say, “I accept the testimonies,” as they have said the last years of their experience, and pay no heed to their teachings. Some even despise them in their hearts. The leading men in Battle Creek have not walked in the light God has given. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 23

The teachers of the people have erred. The Lord has witnessed their backsliding. They have not kept their garments white, nor retained the purity and simplicity of their first faith and first love in the truth. This people who profess to keep all the commandments of God have inclined downward, bending under the influence of the world’s attractions. As soon as they began to receive the favors and friendship of the world, their connection with God was weakened; their strength began to diminish; faith and zeal began to expire; and dead formality took their place. The branches have extended far and wide, but bear little fruit. Where much is given, much will be required. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 24

Men may be well acquainted with the doctrines of the Bible and can defend them by apt arguments. Their minds and memories may be stored with texts, and they may give the impression that they are prepared to do a good and great work, but year after year their deficiencies of Christian character will be more apparent. They do not advance. They go over the same ground, making no growth in the divine life, like wood carved in the form of a tree, but having no living production of natural growth. There are no fresh shoots, no new foliage to be seen. There is the same superficial work, the same limited ideas and sentiments upon most points. They have not advanced in Christian knowledge. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 25

Will you at Battle Creek, by your flippant remarks, your superficial application of them, and by your explanations of them, seek to do away with the effect God designs the testimonies should have in thoroughly reforming the church? Will you show [that] you regard them by humbling your hearts before God? “Drop the matter,” some say. “Say no more about it. Why call for repentance when we have done the best we knew how?” So might the sinner reason in regard to his transgression of God’s law. But Paul says, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Romans 7:9. Light has come, telling you your dangers, making clear your errors, and defining your wrongs. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 26

Will self die? Will you fall on the Rock and be broken? Or, [will you] bind yourselves together more firmly, refusing to be humbled, refusing to repent, refusing to clear the King’s highway? Will you justify yourselves in your past course of wrong and bring upon yourselves the wrath of God? The Lord calls for most earnest action on your part. He will not accept your plausible excuses. He despises the flippant, chaffy spirit of Brother William Gage, for he makes God’s people to err; he removes the sacredness from divine things and brings them on a level with common things. Smart, sharp, and apt, he is regarded by many; but I forbear to name how the Lord regards all such ones. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 27

“Rend your heart, and not your garments,” (Joel 2:13) saith God. Commence the work with your own individual selves and then, when imbued with the Spirit of God, go to work for your poor children. Work for time. Work for eternity. Leave nothing at loose ends to ravel out. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 28

In my dream, which seemed a reality, I was listening to these men, and that which the Lord had shown me they would do was enacted in the meeting. William Gage would, with his cunning speeches, take off the edge to the testimonies and then, with a smile of satisfaction look around as though he had done a smart thing for which he should be congratulated. It was the spirit of Satan expressed in looks and words to make of none effect the testimonies of the Spirit of God. “This,” said the guide with me, “is the way any message of heaven will be treated.” 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 29

God and angels are at work to open before the people their wrongs which have brought the frown of God upon the people. Men, professing to be teachers, step in between them and the light God has given that it shall have no weight or effect upon the hearts of the people. God calls them to repentance, while unconsecrated, unconverted men, as bodies of darkness, call their attention from the necessity of repentance to self-justification. These cunning speeches serve the purpose of Satan. Self-inflated, self-deceived souls are deceiving others. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 30

Elder Smith has had poor companions and supporters. He sat in silence. God pity these men who are blinded and deceived. Meetings that should have been meetings of confession and humiliation have been meetings of self-justification. A spirit of coldness, of irreverence, of lightness was with many. And, “while it is called Today,” “if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation ... in the wilderness.” Hebrews 3:13, 7, 8. God does not make a decree that men’s hearts shall become hard and unimpressible. It is the resistance of light, a refusal to hear the voice of warning and reproof, which strengthens the soul in a position of resistance. He is sowing the seed of resistance, which harvest he must reap in hardness of heart. Men harden their own hearts in their impenitence. They have sown the seed; they reap what they have sown. The precious opportunity that might have aroused the church and brought them to a sense of their true state is lost by the unconsecrated influence of men who will not humble their hearts before God. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 31

The ministers whom God ordains and accepts as His chosen laborers will be men of integrity. They may, some of them, be unlearned and ignorant men; but grace reigns in their hearts, inspiring them with faith and purifying their motives that govern the outward conduct. They are living examples of the mind and spirit of Christ, known and read of all men. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 32

Men not connected with God, not sanctified in heart and life, have a theory of the truth, as had the Jewish chief priests and elders in Christ’s day—men who made the study of the Old Testament their business. Christ said of these men on one occasion, “Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.” Mark 12:24. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 33

The world generally will receive the ministry of the Word and admit the truth if it is not proclaimed in the demonstration of the Spirit and of the power of God. The natural heart finds no opposition to such teaching. It is only the spirit and savor of Christ that is hateful to the unrenewed heart. The form of godliness is not opposed by the world. The popular ministry they will not reject. There is nothing in it that calls the sinner to a sense of his guilt, that calls him to repentance. It is nothing less than the quick and powerful Word of God working in the hearts of His messengers to give the knowledge of the glory of God that can give the victory. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 34

The truth brought before the people, which can save the soul, must not only come from God, but His Spirit must be the active agent in communication, else it will be only as the sayings and doings of men. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 35

These may have the form of Christianity as far as the letter in concerned, but when the crisis shall come that is now very near, these men will be unable to stand. When persecution and reproach come because of the truth, these men will find another platform. The opposition and persecution will not be slow to take their stand when God’s people have the living testimony in their midst and speak the words of truth, being endued with power from on high. When the truth is preached in its simplicity and power as it is in Jesus, it will condemn the world, and then it will be evidence that there is no concord between Christ and Belial. Then will Christ’s followers realize the words of Christ, “Because ye are not of the world, ... therefore the world hateth you ... If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also .” John 15:19, 20. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 36

Those who live godly in Christ Jesus shine as lights in the world. The prince and powers of darkness have not become converted. They will never suffer an assault from the faithful servants of Prince Emmanuel without raising a defense. As His followers contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, not merely in doctrine but in the spirit and power of godliness, the spirit and power of resistance will quickly arise, as in the days of the martyrs. Truth and holiness Satan hates; he is in perfect harmony with profession and pretense. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 37

He assumes the form of godliness to deceive the children of men. This is his most successful armor. Truth and holiness were never more odious to the unregenerate heart than today. It was the practical purity; it was the earnest life of holiness manifested in the life and conduct of Christ that awakened the enmity of the Jews against Him. Christ prayed, “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee.” John 17:25. Even so it is now. The world refuses to receive the truth in the love of it. The carnal mind is at enmity with God. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 38

I entreat the church at Battle Creek to heed the testimonies of the Spirit of God. Do not say, I believe them, and then contradict them in your daily life, refusing to walk in accordance with them. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 39

P. S. This was written and completed the day I was taken down sick. It was put in an envelope ready to send to Battle Creek but was not sent because of my sickness. I had hoped to copy it, but cannot. I send it as it is. Elder Butler, please get someone to copy this. I was so burdened I could not rest until I had spoken faithfully to the brethren in Battle Creek. 3LtMs, Lt 21, 1882, par. 40